Memorial Day Weekend: Madison WI

Brat Fest Petitions Dane County Executives Office to Build Dome Over Willow Island


March 31, 2017
FMI: Jeffrey Schroeter,

Brat Fest Petitions Dane County Executive’s Office to Build Dome Over Willow Island

MADISON, WI—For the last six years, The World’s Largest Brat Fest has been pretty soggy. Rain has forced the festival to close numerous times, causing the event to lose brat sales and revenue for the over 100 charities that benefit from the event. “It’s critically important that we keep breaking this world record and raise money for these charities,” said Brat Fest Organizer and Metcalfe’s co-owner, better known as “Brat Man”, Tim Metcalfe.

Brat Fest has raised almost $1.75 million since its humble beginnings in the parking lot of Hilldale in 1983. “Our charities depend on this funding. It’s critically important to their missions in supporting the Dane County community. And we need this dome to help make it happen,” continued Metcalfe.

“The idea came to us last year when we had to evacuate the island for a little over an hour. That meant about 10,000 brats worth of lost sales. We have rain insurance, and that helps us out from a financial standpoint, but we hated having to turn our wonderful Brat Fest supporters away. Having the county install a dome over the island, seemed like a reasonable request,” said Metcalfe.

Brat Fest has officially made a request for the construction of a dome to be completed no later that 2020.

When the island evacuated last year, about 8,000 people eventually returned to the island for that night’s headline act, Travis Tritt. Due to the storm, a large percentage of the festival’s volunteers left the island and didn’t return, causing the festival to be short-staffed. This staffing shortage caused issues with getting the festival back up and running for attendees. Brat Fest Sales and Marketing Director, Jeffrey Schroeter, commented, “It’s not just about the lost revenue or the volunteers– we truly want to provide the best family-friendly, free event that we can for our community.”

Brat Fest hopes the county sees the benefit of installing the dome not just for their festival, but for all of the other events that take place on Willow Island throughout the year. Metcalfe mentioned, “With the dome, maybe we can even start having a winter version of our festival around Christmas to give families another event to come together for.”

The Dane County Executive’s Office has yet to comment on this request.

Also, Happy April Fools!

A rendering of the dome Brat Fest officials would like to see from the Dane County Executive’s Office.

About The World’s Largest Brat Fest
Brat Fest started in 1983, when the late Tom Metcalfe and his wife, Margaret, decided to grill brats in the Hilldale parking lot of Metcalfe’s Market to thank his customers. Tom’s sons, Tim and Kevin Metcalfe, have grown Brat Fest into what Madisonians and others from around the country know today as “The World’s Largest Brat Fest.” It still serves as a thank-you to customers, and it also raises money for local charitable organizations. Today, The World’s Largest Brat Fest is a four-day extravaganza complete with music stages, a “Bun Run,” and other events. In 2010, a record number of 209,376 brats were consumed. This year The World’s Largest Brat Fest will be held at Willow Island (at the Alliant Energy Center) May 26-29. Visit for more.

About Metcalfe’s Market
Metcalfe’s Market is a locally owned and operated grocery store with two locations in Madison (Hilldale and West Towne), and one in the heart of downtown Wauwatosa. In its 100-year history, Metcalfe’s has led the way in environmental practices. From creating a local food miles program featuring 3,500 local foods, to going to 100 percent green power, to their Choose to Reuse program, Metcalfe’s Market is committed to a more sustainable Wisconsin. For more information on Metcalfe’s Market, visit

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